State of the Anti-Culture
Finding common ground with others can be difficult; we all enjoy different things in life, things that are shaped by our prejudices and circumstances as we learn and grow. A movie you enjoy may be dull to your best friend. Your favorite song might annoy your significant other to no end (and they probably won’t ever admit it, but you can always tell). However, there is one thing I’ve noticed people bonding over more than anything else: their hatred of things. As a society, I firmly believe we take more pleasure in commiserating over the things we dislike instead of the things we enjoy. It’s so much easier to talk about how much you hate Coldplay, or how much you can’t stand that kid in your 8am who talks just a little too loudly for a morning class, than it is to talk about the things you love. Let me be clear; this isn’t some big psychological mystery. I’m sure we’ve all been mocked for something we enjoyed that others didn’t. It can really hurt, and force you to shut down. Why risk being mocked when you can just jump on the hate train and instantly be one of the cool kids?
In assessing what I refer to as the “Anti-Culture,” the cliché “It’s easier to hate than it is to love” seems fit. In the age of the internet is it quite easy to access all different types of content. YouTube has millions of videos on art, science, music, and of course, cats. Social media lets you share any thought, achievement, or plate of food with the snap of a camera and a click of the “post” button. We are involved in a world where any information or content you seek is available to you with a quick search and yet… are we grateful? Despite all of the amazing tools at our disposal, we still find reasons to be a part of the Anti-Culture. We actively seek out content and, should it even slightly disagree with our worldview, we berate it. Content creators watch as they start a discussion or pose an idea, only to be insulted and sometimes even threatened in a comment section. Behind a keyboard and a screen, you can be as ruthless as you’d like with very little consequence. A needlessly negative comment can spiral into an all-out keyboard war as users defend their proclivities and chastise those who would dare see the world differently. We’d much rather leave a comment detailing how much we hated this new video, or how we wish our favorite bands would go back to their old musical ways. We’re so quick to write-off retail workers or fast-food employees and treat them as if they aren’t even human. We spend so much time voicing our hated for things that we forget to broadcast all of the things we truly love; the things that truly make us happy.
Now I don’t claim to be a psychologist, nor do I even think I understand my own brain let alone everyone else’s, but I am an observer. I see countless comments, posts, hell even entire Facebook groups or subreddits dedicated to ripping down anything that a person or group of people may disagree with. I myself have partaken in this crusade against outside perspective on countless occasions. Maybe it’s human nature to be pessimistic and critical; science suggests that's how we’ve survived as a species this long. However, I think there is immeasurable power in constructive criticism and giving praise where it is due. Kevin Smith, author and filmmaker, puts it this way: “Remember: It costs nothing to encourage an artist, and the potential benefits are staggering. A pat on the back to an artist now could one day result in your favorite film, or the cartoon you love to get stoned watching, or the song that saves your life. Discourage an artist, you get absolutely nothing in return, ever.” I want to emphasize that I am not against criticism; people need to hear that they could do better sometimes, or that they may need to switch things up to get back on track. All I suggest is the next time you are commenting on a video, posting on Reddit, or just talking with friends, be an advocate for what you love. Commend a content creator for sharing an opinion with you, and being bold enough to do so online. Support artists that create the things you love, and leave an encouraging comment or a simple “thank you” where necessary. Share your culture and your passions, and try to avoid being a member of the Anti-Culture.